Their failure to beat South Korea on Wednesday afternoon, combined with Sweden’s comfortable win over Mexico, saw Joachim Low’s men exit Russia at the first hurdle – their first World Cup elimination at this point for 80 years.
Sweden won the group by beating Mexico 3-0 in the other match taking place at the same time, meaning Germany needed to defeat South Korea to get through in second place.
Germany would have progressed with a win at the Kazan Arena but barely looked capable of scoring against the Koreans, let alone going on to successfully defend the title they won in Brazil four years ago.
South Korea won 2-0 thanks to two goals in second half stoppage time as Germany desperately pushed forwards to try and find a winner.
Kim-Young Gwon tapped in from close range when an error by Toni Kroos played him onside, with the goal eventually awarded by VAR.
There was drama as the football world waited to see if the goal was good, but VAR showed the Korean corner had been touched into Gwon’s path by the boot of Kroos, overruling the linesman’s flag.
Tottenham forward Son-Heung Min then slotted into an empty goal after chasing down a long punt, with Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer having raced up the field to try and get on the end of a corner.
Germany had earlier missed several great chances to score, Timo Werner firing wide and Mats Hummels heading wide from six yards.
‘This is a very, very bitter evening for us, for German football and for all Germany fans,’ said Hummels after the game. He later posted a crying emoji and a one-word tweet: ‘Sorry’.
After the game, Germany manager Joachim Low – who has a contract until 2022 but may walk away after this disappointment – admitted they deserved to be knocked out in the first round of a World Cup for the first time since 1938.
Football-mad Germany was plunged into mourning and the newspapers were furious. ‘A historic disgrace,’ Der Spiegel called it.
At the fan zone by Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, supporters had begun leaving even before the final whistle blew. ‘These aren’t world champions, they didn’t fight at all,’ fumed 27-year-old Oliver Fischer, wearing a Germany jersey. ‘We absolutely deserved to be out. We had no fight, no courage, no ideas!’
England fans, who have suffered so long at the hands of Germany in major tournaments, were quick to celebrate the German exit. One fan posted a picture of Dele Alli waving goodbye, with the caption ‘Dear Germany, Love England’.
HOW IT FARE
3pm – Both matches kick-off; Mexico’s clash with Sweden starts in Ekaterinburg, South Korea against Germany commences in Kazan. At kick-off, Mexico are leading Group F with Germany second, Sweden third.
3.35pm – Germany dominate possession in their game but struggle to break down the Koreans. This statistic sums up the match… Germany passes: 258. South Korea passes: 47.
3.45pm – Half-time in both matches, it remains 0-0 in both. Sweden are on top in their game but heading out on goal difference.
4.05pm – Sweden score the opening goal against Mexico, Ludwig Augustinsson finishing from close range after a scrappy move. Sweden are now going through as group winners with six points, Mexico have six, and Germany are heading out with four.
4.06pm – Timo Werner misses the clearest opening so far for Germany, slashing a shot wide from 12 yards.
4.17pm – 0-2 to Sweden, Andreas Granqvist tucks away a penalty. Suddenly Mexico are in danger due to their inferior goal difference, and Germany just need a one-goal victory to qualify and knock the North Americans out.
4.30pm – Still 0-0 in Kazan, Germany struggle to break down the obstinate Koreans. Group stage elimination for the World Cup holders suddenly looks possible.
4.32pm – A horrendous own goal by Edson Alvarez, scuffing the ball into his own thigh and over the line, sees Mexico fall three behind. It changes little however, unless Germany score…
4.37pm – Korea almost score, Son Heung-min hitting the side netting. Germany are playing poorly and have 12 minutes to save themselves.
4.45pm – Massive chance for Germany – Mats Hummels mistimes a header and sends it wide from six yards. Three minutes to play.
4.50pm – South Korea look to have scored an injury time winner through Kim-Young Gwon, but the linesman’s flag goes up for offside – yet it appears to have come off Toni Kroos, so it goes to VAR…
4.52pm – …AND IS GIVEN! South Korea lead 1-0, Germany are heading home, bottom of Group F.
4.53pm – Full time in Ekaterinburg. Mexico 0-3 Sweden. Sweden are through, Mexico and the rest of the football world hold their breath.
4.55pm – A long ball from the Korean defence catches German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer out as he races forwards, Son Heung-Min races onto it and slots home. 2-0 to Korea.
4.58pm – All over. Germany out of the World Cup at the group stage for the first time since 1938. Mexican and Swedish fans party together in Ekaterinburg.